Powers celebrates Christ’s birthday

Published 6:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ruth Powers said it doesn’t matter to her when Christmas is celebrated, but that it is celebrated.

“There are a lot of people out there that make a big deal out of the fact that the celebration of Christmas has pagan origins,” Powers said.

According to the Web site www.history.com, in ancient Rome, Romans celebrated the feast of Saturnalia in December, honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture.

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Romans also celebrated Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children and the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on Dec. 25.

It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

Powers said that the Holy Emperor Constantine and Pope Julius I replaced Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra with Christmas.

Powers is a retired religious history teacher at Cathedral High School.

“The bottom line is that I believe that we celebrate that Christ was born, not when he was born,” Powers said. “We could just as easily celebrate it in July as in December.”

Powers said Christmas reminds her that God loved people enough to take on a human nature and identity to get as close to them and get them close Him.

“There’s a little story that I like about a man who wouldn’t celebrate Christmas because he didn’t understand it,” Powers said. “He didn’t think God would have wanted to become human because he could not understand why God would want to got through with all the pain (human suffering).”

Powers said the man was sitting in his living room one Christmas Eve and a flock of birds flew into his window to get out of a storm.

The man felt so sorry for the birds, Powers said, that he wanted to put them into his barn to keep warm. At first he tried to shoo them in and only a few went in. Then he tried to lead them in with breadcrumbs and still only a few went in but most of them were scared of the man.

“Then he thought ‘if only I was a bird so I could communicate with them and make them understand,’” Powers said. “At that moment he understood Christmas.”

Powers said what the story does for her is remind her to be a generous, kind and a comforting person.